How to Succeed in the Pioneer Service
1. What viewpoint did men have for many years toward running a four-minute mile, but was it the right viewpoint?
IN 1864 the world’s record for running a mile was four minutes and fifty-six seconds. No one dreamed of running a mile in less than four minutes. Even in 1923 when Paavo Nurmi ran it in four minutes and ten seconds, they said it could not be done. But then in 1954 Roger Bannister of Britain ran it in 3:59.4. Since then the race has speeded up even more, with eight new records. Now the time for the mile is 3:51.1.
2. (a) What race is everyone who is serving Jehovah engaged in running? (b) What privilege deserves our consideration, and what response to the call has there been?
2 Everyone in Jehovah’s service is running in a race for everlasting life, and their service is on a full-time basis, but some have accepted the challenge of the “pioneer” service. In this service the pace is stepped up, more ground is covered and it requires endurance. Not all find they can continue at this increased pace of theocratic activity. Yet this does not discourage others from trying. They see the urgency of the time and are encouraged to get in the pioneer service. It is wonderful to see that in 1966 there were over 47,000 pioneers in the world; in 1967, over 53,700; in 1968, 63,800 shared in this work, and in 1969 the average number was 76,500. Then in 1970 the pioneers increased to 88,871. In some countries as many as one out of every five publishers are in the pioneer service. So do not think this is not for you. Fathers, mothers, elderly persons as well as the young have found it possible to share in this ministry full time. Even some who are blind or crippled find this pace to their taste. But still the call is going out. More help is needed in the field to care for interested ones. It is a privilege of service that deserves careful consideration.—Acts 16:9, 10.
3. What are some viewpoints with regard to the pioneer service, and what problems have some faced?
3 How do you feel about the pioneer ministry? Do you say to yourself, I couldn’t possibly do it? Perhaps you feel you could not keep the pace or that the obstacles in your way are too great. Some young publishers just finishing high school and who are desirous of entering the pioneer ministry are discouraged by unbelieving parents. Others are under pressure to continue on with a college education. Some have even been put out of their homes for pursuing their plans for the ministry. Others feel that problems of health or limited employment prospects or lack of transportation make pioneering as difficult for them as running a four-minute mile. Yet these obstacles have been overcome by many with Jehovah’s help. They feel as Paul did, saying: “For a large door that leads to activity has been opened to me, but there are many opposers.”—1 Cor. 16:9.
4. What good reasons for staying in the pioneer ministry have some expressed?
4 This race of being a loyal Christian has no ending this side of the “great tribulation,” and to win means to continue running with effectiveness in the ministry. (Matt. 10:22) Many have worked hard for years to get ahead in some profession, but when they learn the truth they decide that nothing can compare with this privilege of serving Jehovah and many of them do it as full-time pioneers. Those who have been a long time in the pioneer service will tell you that their desire to continue and their appreciation for the ministry increase the longer they continue. They speak of the joys of service and how it has helped them. How happy they are to be able to help one or two or even more persons on the way to life each year as many pioneers do. Compared with the average of about ten hours spent in the service by many congregation publishers—which is good—the pioneer is able to spend ten to fifteen times as much time in helping others, and as a result the blessings multiply. Personal appreciation and ability in using the Scriptures and in teaching others also increase rapidly.
5. Mention various branches of the full-time service in which many share.
5 It is interesting to know that throughout the world there were 13,426 in special pioneer service during 1970 spending, on an average, approximately 150 hours a month in the ministry, and this number includes many who are serving as missionaries in foreign lands. Additionally, there were 75,445 spending upward of 100 hours a month as vacation pioneers and regular pioneers. This includes 2,326 serving as traveling ministers or circuit servants and another 290 in the district work. Additionally, 2,304 served throughout the world as full-time ministers at the Society’s 93 offices producing literature and supervising the ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses. So, truly, as Paul said, a large door leading to activity is open. Will you pass through it?
6. What preparation for regular pioneer service helps many to succeed?
6 How can you be sure you will be able to run the race successfully and not become a discouraged dropout? What are some obstacles that may confront you? One reason why many either give up this service or are disqualified is that they do not reach the service goals. This takes planning. In any race the runner must get a good start, otherwise he may fall so far behind that he becomes discouraged. A good runner will never enter a race without training first, and the same principle applies to the pioneer ministry. It is not easy to jump from a pace of ten hours a month as a congregation publisher to one hundred hours a month on the pioneer track. So it is good to build up your service first. This will also make it possible for you to meet the entrance qualifications for the pioneer service. Many find it good to vacation pioneer for a while before becoming a regular pioneer. Then they find the pace is not really so difficult. After all, being a regular pioneer minister does not mean spending six or eight hours a day preaching, but only four hours on the average.
7, 8. What helps in meeting a good pioneer schedule? Give an example.
7 Even so, a practical schedule is essential. This is true of both congregation publishers and pioneers. You may have seen a race where a runner starts out so slowly that even though he picks up speed as the race progresses, he still loses out. Well, to be a good pioneer, it is important to get off to a good start and at a good pace; then you will not be disqualified and dropped from the Society’s list for not reaching the goals. One pioneer said he felt he should be businesslike about his service. In secular work he would have to be at the office at 9 a.m., so as a pioneer he always got to the first door by 9 a.m., and he made a good pioneer. In some territories one can start at 7 a.m. Jehovah set the pattern for us in this. As Jeremiah said: “And Jehovah sent to you all his servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them.” Note how Jeremiah followed this example in his ministry: “I kept speaking to you people, rising up early and speaking.” (Jer. 25:3, 4) So get an early start rather than a late one.
8 Many pioneers pace themselves during the month by planning on spending thirty hours a week in the ministry. They like to get their time in early, leaving a few days at the end of the month for other things that may become necessary. If you do this, then you will never come down the homestretch at the end of the month going at top speed, only to be exhausted at the start of the next lap the following month. Getting a slow start in the service makes each month a race at the finish, with the pioneer often not even reaching his goal of hours. How much better to finish the month well ahead in time devoted to the field ministry and ready to get a good start the following month.
9. How should the hour requirement for the field ministry be viewed?
9 One thing is sure: the full-time pioneer ministry is not for lazy people. A minister who is a regular pioneer has a requirement to spend 1,200 hours a year in the field ministry. Having the right viewpoint on this is a great help to continuing. If one considers this to be a burden or weight, it will slow one down in running well. But if he appreciates that he is not in the service just to be putting in time or setting records but because of valuing the opportunity to increase his ministry, to share more fully in the worship of Jehovah, then this hour requirement will be a goal to be exceeded if possible. So, instead of offering the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips, ten hours a month in the field ministry as a congregation publisher might, pioneers can heap up ten times that praise to Jehovah during just one month.—Heb. 13:15.
10. How are the goals suggested for pioneers helpful?
10 The other goals suggested for regular pioneers, such as placing 100 magazines a month, making 35 back-calls or return visits on interested people and conducting seven home Bible studies each week, are really recommendations from practical experience to help pioneers be productive and fruitful in their ministry. Many pioneers, really putting their heart in their work, spend not just 100 hours a month, but 110, 120, even 150 hours a month. Why? Because they see the need, the urgency of our times, and they want to help as many as possible to appreciate the truth and get on the road to life. Besides that, a pioneer who is always ahead in reaching his goal of hours knows that he will never have difficulty in reaching the goal later in the year if he gets sick some month or wants to take a vacation. He is ready for any emergency.
11. (a) How does materialism turn some aside from their service? (b) What Scriptural counsel is helpful in determining the course to follow?
11 However, you can be sure that Satan will be out on the track, trying to slow you down. He may put hurdles in your way, or pitfalls that have to be skirted or jumped, or he may try to get you off the course on a sidetrack through materialism. To run a good race it is necessary to avoid distractions. Could you imagine a runner in a cross-country race suddenly stopping to inspect a car that catches his eye, or pausing to gaze in a store window as he goes through town, only to let others pass him by? Instead he should follow the counsel of Proverbs 4:25-27: “As for your eyes, straight ahead they should look, yes, your own beaming eyes should gaze straight in front of you. Smooth out the course of your foot, and may all your own ways be firmly established. Do not incline to the right hand or to the left.” That counsel applies, not only to pioneers, but to every servant of Jehovah. Yet some do drop out of the service because they do not keep their eyes straight ahead on their goal. They become enmeshed in materialism, and soon drop out of the race for life. Some pioneers decide to pick up heavy loads to carry, trying to pioneer while buying a car or trailer, something that may not be really needed. But it does not have to be that way. If you keep your eye on the goal and are determined to continue, you can with Jehovah’s help. Just do not pick up those extra weights. Instead, “let us also put off every weight . . . and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”—Heb. 12:1.
12. Does Jehovah provide materially for those who serve him?
12 One big hurdle for many is suitable work to provide the needed income. Some say, It is all right to serve God, but who is going to feed you? Well Jehovah is seeing to it that over 88,000 in the full-time ministry as pioneers and Bethel family members are being fed and clothed and provided for, and the number is growing. It is necessary to have some income to maintain oneself. However, good balance is necessary to keep any needed secular work secondary and the ministry uppermost. Jesus had that balance, and we do well to listen to his counsel. As he said, “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ . . . For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.” (Matt. 6:31, 32) So we do not need to worry, but we do want to plan wisely.—Prov. 20:4; Phil. 4:11-13.
13. As to employment and transportation, what do pioneers and prospective pioneers do well to consider?
13 Those in school who are planning to pioneer do well to learn a practical trade such as stenography or carpentry—something that will provide part-time work, perhaps some skill that is needed in the area where they live. Some pioneer ministers do cleaning, painting, gardening, washing windows, selling, and so forth. Sisters may do typing, ironing, sewing, washing, baby-sitting. As one brother said, “You can usually find something, if you are willing to do anything.” And he was willing because he wanted to continue as a pioneer. Of course, a pioneer needs to consider not just his income, but also his outgo. This is just as important. If a car costs more than the pioneer can afford, why be forced to stop the pioneer ministry just to have a car? Many find it possible to pioneer even in rural territory without a car by traveling with others or using public transportation or riding a bicycle or just by walking. After all, Jesus did not have a car or even a bicycle to get around the territory where he preached, and much of it was rural territory. All in the full-time ministry, whether congregation publishers or pioneers, do well to cultivate the attitude of the apostle Paul, who said, “So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” (1 Tim. 6:8) Paul did not worry about getting a racing chariot to help him in his travels.
14, 15. (a) How may Satan use misconduct to stop some from running a good race? (b) What happy course have many followed?
14 Perhaps you have a good start as a pioneer. You may have a good schedule, a part-time job; you are putting the Kingdom interests first. Could you be deterred from running the race successfully? Some can be. They fail to avoid the snares of Satan and are tripped by improper conduct. Yet to continue in the pioneer service one must be “free from accusation.” For all true Christians it is necessary, as Titus 2:12 says, to “repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.” The apostle Paul was aware of this, for he wrote: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (1 Cor. 9:27) It is a shame to help others on the way to life, only to be disqualified personally. How much better to go on to greater privileges, perhaps entering the special pioneer ministry, or becoming a missionary serving in a foreign land, or receiving a call to be a traveling circuit minister of the Society or to serve at the Bethel headquarters of the Lord’s organization.—Heb. 6:1, 10-12; Titus 1:5, 6.
15 Last year hundreds came to Bethel and many entered the missionary service, while others moved on their own to help with the work in foreign fields. In such service they may find the race even more demanding than in their homeland, but the rewards are often greater too. It is encouraging, too, to note that in some months there are as many sharing in the vacation pioneer service for two weeks or a month as there are on the regular pioneer list, showing the desire of many brothers to expand their share in the ministry. In some countries as many as one out of ten or even one out of five publishers of the good news are engaged in the pioneer ministry.
COULD YOU PIONEER?
16. (a) Mention other obstacles to continuing in the pioneer service. (b) What is a great help in overcoming problems?
16 Could you be among the six out of every one hundred publishers of the good news who share in the pioneer ministry on the average? It is something to consider. Jehovah can strengthen you to succeed. Why is it, then, that some in this service become discouraged and even drop out of the pioneer service? Perhaps it is due to lack of a partner in service, or maybe because of incurring too many bills, taking on more than one can handle so that the schedule becomes too crowded and there is too much extra work. As a result the ministry begins to suffer and the joy of service is diminished just as when a runner tires during a long race. Every pioneer knows what it is that gives him problems. There it is like a hurdle across his path. Can it be overcome? Usually it can. Do not underestimate the importance of prayer. Jehovah knows our needs and helps us when we seek his assistance.—Ps. 145:18, 19.
17. How can arrangements be made to work with others in the field service?
17 It is good to talk to other pioneers or the servants in the congregation or perhaps to the circuit servant to try to find a solution to what hinders you in your service. If the problem is due to working alone, then take the initiative, and try to make appointments to work with others. If you do not succeed at first, do not be discouraged, but try again. Find who can work with you on certain days. Encourage others to consider pioneering with you. Rich blessings result from sharing fully in the service of God. As Proverbs 11:30 declares: “The fruitage of the righteous one is a tree of life, and he that is winning souls is wise.”
18. Relate an encouraging example of someone who has continued in the pioneer service.
18 Many have arranged their affairs so as to pioneer, and their experiences are very encouraging. One sister started pioneering at fifty-seven and is continuing now at seventy-two years of age. Sometimes during the winter, illness keeps her in bed, but she has been able to have those with whom she is studying the Bible come to her home for their studies. And she has even kept in touch by phone and by mail with those on whom she usually calls and those to whom she regularly delivers the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. She finds it good to work in territory near her home so she can rest at noon and get something to eat to keep her strength up. Another sister who is now seventy-four years old has been a pioneer since 1912. She has been a special pioneer since 1941 and is still spending 150 hours in the service. A brother who has been a pioneer for forty years continues to serve faithfully at eighty-seven.
19. What responsibilities must one in pioneer service not overlook, and how can these be met?
19 Becoming a pioneer does not release a person from his responsibilities in the family, whether as the head of the family or as the wife or a child. Those who are married need to consider family matters such as the care of the children, the schedule for secular work or cooking and housework and how it can be done without harming family interests. One brother has been able to continue pioneering despite raising a family and encountering serious illness. While recognizing his family obligations, he reports that good cooperation on the part of his wife and working closely with the congregation have helped him to continue. Sisters, even with large families, sometimes find that with good family support they can pioneer. One sister with six children and another with eight work together as pioneers since their children are now in school most of the time. Many other examples might be mentioned. Old and young, single and married, these pioneers are following the course of wisdom. So if you are not a pioneer but could be, then consider Jesus’ words at Matthew 6:19-21: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth . . . Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
20. What encouragement do we have to continue the race as Jehovah’s servants?
20 For you who are in the full-time service as pioneers or missionaries, in the circuit or district service or at Bethel—whatever may be your privilege of service, do not give up the race, for the end of this system of things is getting close. Look to Jehovah to help you to pass the pitfalls and hurdles that stop others along the way. You are not in a race to run the mile in four minutes, but you are in a race with the goal of everlasting life in view. So do not let anything or anyone discourage you or turn you aside from this wonderful privilege of service. Not everyone can pioneer, but you who can, keep the pace and continue the race. Remember, in the ministry, whether as a congregation publisher or as a pioneer, the race is not for the swift, the young, the strong, but for all who trust in Jehovah. (Isa. 40:28-31) It is not the speed but the endurance that counts in this race. We encourage all who can, not only to start, but more importantly to stay in the wonderful service of our God Jehovah.